I haven’t had much time to photograph the past week or so. It’s been brutally hot, and I’ve been pretty busy at work. Since I had the day off today, I had to do something photographically…but it’s another scorcher, and by the time I got up, the morning light had faded. So, I went out to my yard and picked two leaves to shoot indoors. Then I had to figure out how best to set up shooting these. I knew I wanted to do some sort of backlight, as it allows you to really see the detail in the veins of the leaf, though this varies by leaf. My wife is sewing some dresses right now for her work, and the lovely red satin that was draped over a music stand provided a great backdrop. I pulled out two light stands and put one of my manual flashguns on one to provide the light. I then used a second stand and taped a comb to it to provide an easy place to clip the leaf. I just used a clothespin and the comb, and voila…a nice place to hold a leaf upright. I put my Olympus E-M5 with Leica 45mm f/2.8 Macro on my tripod and ran a sync cord from a hotshoe sync adapter to my flashgun to control the flash.
If you don’t have any manual flashes and sync cables, I think it is worth investing in them. Not only for macro work, but also for portraiture. My lighting kit consists of three flashguns, two full light stands, one short light stand, two umbrellas, a snoot/flash bender, a sync cord and hotshoe sync adapter. Manual flashes are pretty affordable…I use a Vivitar 285 and a LumoPro LP160 as my manual flashes (and I have an old Sigma EF500 Super I use on occasion too). The LP160 is a great flash with manual control, optical slave and sync ports. They’re powerful and convenient, and only cost $160.
Anyway, the above setup was all I used, and then I went about trying different compositions and such. I did some with straight backlight, some with oblique light, and a few with a backlight flash to start off, then bulb to fill in the red backdrop with natural light. To get this exposure just how I wanted I used the E-M5′s excellent Live Time mode, which allows you to watch the exposure as it’s happening, and stop it when it is exposed just to your liking. This worked REALLY well. Anyway, I ended up with three shots I liked, one of which (the black and white below), which I really enjoyed.